Letter of the Week: Perfecting Fireworks

This is Popular Photography Magazine – not Popular Photoshop Magazine – so lets teach our readers to do it right – and reduce the dependence on having to fix mistakes after the fact.

Of course the point of this Toolbox was that if you expose the fireworks correctly you won’t have enough light to capture the scene…

To: POP Editor
Subject: Fireworks Photoshop fix

I would like to comment on the article “Make your photos of fireworks explode” (July, 2008)

The fix proposed is elegant but unnecessary.

The reason for the needed fix is that the original images were not exposed correctly. The burst is clearly overexposed. This causes the loss of color and you get ballooning of the trails. This is not unexpected since you have small streaks of light on a mostly dark sky. All the darkness causes the meter to over expose the fireworks.

I have found that my fireworks images work very well when I just set the exposure compensation in the range of -1 to -2 f-stops. I darken the images until I see color clearly. I also try and select bursts that detonate in a different area of sky so the smoke from the previous bursts does not obscure the next burst. Typically the finale does not work well since there is so much smoke the images look obscured and soft.

This is Popular Photography Magazine – not Popular Photoshop Magazine – so lets teach our readers to do it right – and reduce the dependence on having to fix mistakes after the fact.

—Peter W. Rulon

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